Speeddating with researchers from almost 30 countries at the second global meeting of the world's young academies in Stockholm.

All countries should have a young academy

Svenska 2015-12-17

The big issues about how researchers can help to create a sustainable society and a better world are uniting young academies around the world. Researchers from 27 countries were engaged by these issues at the second global meeting of the world’s young academies in Stockholm. You can also listen to Curie’s podcast from this meeting.

The young academies around the world have a lot in common, and learn from each other’s experiences when they meet. Amsterdam hosted the first global meeting in 2012. The idea was largely to get to know each other and understand each other’s activities and issues better.

In November it was time for the second global meeting in Stockholm.

“One of our goals was to identify projects that different academies can run together – for example, how Sudan and Sweden could cooperate,” explains Anna Sjöström Douagi, director of the Young Academy of Sweden.

A voice for the world, in the world

Finding one common issue that all the academies can get involved in is quite difficult, according to Anna Sjöström Douagi. Research conditions vary hugely in different countries, and the problems we encounter in Sweden sometimes seem rather trivial compared with those in some African countries. They may be lacking funds for essential infrastructure, materials or software for research.

Representatives from the different academies chose to discuss a more global issue: how to contribute to achieving the UN sustainability goals. Young researchers and in particular the young academies play a special role here, says Anna Sjöström Douagi.

“It is not so much a question of finding solutions, but rather of recognising that we must work together with decision-makers and policy makers. It is a bit like going on a course to learn more about ongoing discussions and the expectations that are put on researchers. It is about a sense of responsibility and getting involved by including these issues in your research”.

Influencing and creating society

Anna Sjöström Douagi thinks that all countries should have a young academy. Admittedly there are selfish reasons, such as gaining contacts in France and Italy. More than that, though, is the fact that the academies play such an important role in their own countries.

Egypt recently established a young academy and Anna Sjöström Douagi hopes that more countries in the region which have gone through the Arab spring will join. She refers to Tunisia as one example.

“The country is now trying to build up a stable democracy after the last five turbulent years. A movement of young, educated researchers can improve the situation – their society will be better equipped for the future if they can manage to focus on knowledge and education.

I would like to see people getting together and giving confidence to a young research country, which would give it strength and help to prevent segregation.”

A real energy boost – and fun!

One of the less lofty goals of the conference was for everyone to feel they had enjoyed themselves when they returned home.

“I think – at least hope – that all the participants felt that this was an energy boost. It was great to meet researchers in different fields from all over the world. Jenny and I are now going to think over what we can do next. Perhaps we can establish a bilateral project with another young academy and do something fun together to boost their confidence.”

Read more in Curie: A voice for young researchers

Text: Natalie von der Lehr
Photo: Anna Kjellström / Sveriges unga akademi